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Weekly Fish and Wildlife News
April 27, 2012
Issue No. 618

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Table of Contents

* ‘I Think We Need To Take Those Dams Down’: Judge Redden’s Interview Comments Stir Reaction

* Oregon Wants Access To ‘Lethal Management Tools’ In Reducing Salmon-Eating Cormorant Numbers

* Briefs Filed Defending Sea Lion Removal; Oral Arguments May 15 On Preliminary Injunction Request

* Boat Crowding At Wind River Mouth Prompts Wider Fishing Boundary; Spring Chinook Counts Rising

* Gorge Hatcheries Release 10 Million Plus Juvenile Salmon Past Week; More Transferred For Recovery Programs

* Umatilla Tribes This Spring, Summer To Measure Success Of Lamprey Reintroduction, Dam Passage

* Gathering Celebrates Completion of Tribes’ In-Lieu Dallesport Treaty Fishing Access Site; 31st Built By Corps

* Culvert Work Set For This Year To Aid Wild Salmon, Steelhead In Portland’s Johnson Creek

* Colville Tribes’ Traditional Fishing Gear Efforts Anticipate Rising Salmon Numbers From New Hatchery

* NW Utilities Forecast Report Says ‘Gaps To Fill’ In Next Decade To Meet Winter, Summer ‘Peak’ Loads

* Researchers Unveil New Seafloor Mapping Of Oregon’s Nearshore; Data For Fishing Industry, Marine Planners

* Research Shows Aquaculture Salmon Feed Includes Wild, ‘High Trophic Level’ Fish


* ‘I Think We Need To Take Those Dams Down’: Judge Redden’s Interview Comments Stir Reaction

In a retrospective interview with Idaho Public Television previewed this week, the long-time presiding federal judge in the Columbia River basin’s salmon recovery debate said efforts may to this point have fallen short by assuming dam breaching is not an option.

“I think we need to take those dams down….,” James A. Redden said during an interview with reporter Aaron Kunz for Idaho Public Television that was excerpted this week by Earthfix.opb.org.

“And I’ve never ordered them you know – or tried to order them that you’ve gotta take those dams down. But I have urged them to do some work on those dams… and they have,” Redden said of the federal dams operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

During the interview Redden also said that fish survival statistics has shown that the spilling of water at hydro projects in spring and in summer for fish passage, as mandated by the court in recent years, “has been very helpful.”

The federal judge, who has for nearly 10 years held federal feet to the fire over Columbia-Snake river basin salmon protection efforts, said in interview excerpts released this week that he is perplexed that lower Snake dam breaching has been dismissed as a recovery tool.

“It’s a lot easier than putting them up,” the judge said of breaching the dams.

The Corps of Engineers, which operates the dams, could “dig out the ditch and let it [the river] go around,” Redden said of the dams.

The four lower Snake dams, completed in the 1960s and 1970s, swamp what was prime spawning habitat for, particularly, fall chinook salmon. But even with breaching of the four dams upriver passage to much of the fall chinook’s historic habitat would remain blocked just upriver at the Idaho Power Company’s Hells Canyon Complex along the Idaho-Oregon border.

In a Nov. 22, 2011 e-mail to litigants, Judge Redden asked that the lawsuit over the validity of the federal salmon protection strategy – the 2008 Federal Columbia River Power System biological opinion -- be assigned to another judge. The NOAA Fisheries BiOp judges whether the federal dams jeopardize the survival of 13 Columbia/Snake river salmon and steelhead stocks whose wild portions are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

“At our last meeting I indicated that I would step down prior to the filing of the 2014 BiOp,” Redden said in the November e-mail. He was referring to a FCRPS BiOp that now is being developed by NOAA Fisheries -- in official ESA “consultation” with federal agencies that operate the Columbia-Snake River Power System -- to replace a 2008/2010 version. Those agencies include the Corps and Bureau, which operate the Columbia/Snake river dams, and the Bonneville Power Administration, which markets hydro power generated in the system.

Redden ruled in August 2011 that the 2008/2010 FCRPS BiOp, which was to prevail for 10 years, was illegal and ordered that its legal flaws be corrected by Jan. 1, 2014. BiOps are required under the ESA to evaluate whether federal actions, such as the operation of the dams, jeopardize listed stocks.

Redden said he stepped down in order to allow a new judge “to review the history of this matter before the 2014 BiOp is filed.”

“I will follow this matter with great interest,” Redden wrote.

The court announced shortly thereafter that the case had been reassigned to Judge Michael Simon.

“I struck the 2000 BiOp, and the 2004 BiOp, and the 2008/2011 BiOp,” said Redden, who was assigned the case in February 2003. In May 2003 Judge Redden granted motions for summary judgment invalidating the 2000 strategy, which was replaced by the 2004 BiOp. On May 2005 Redden declared the 2004 BiOp “arbitrary and capricious.” It was eventually replaced by the 2008 BiOp, which was supplemented in 2010.

The long-running lawsuit has pitted a coalition of fishing and conservation groups against the federal government but has also involved tribes, utility interests, irrigators, navigators and others with a vested interest in the fish and/or other river resources.

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-WA., the congressman from the southeast Washington district where the four dams are found, immediately blasted the judge for his comments. The House Natural Resources Committee chairman is a strong-voiced opponent of dam removal.

“This interview candidly reveals the activist bias of Judge Redden that I and many in the Pacific Northwest have suspected for years. Due to his personal views, this one judge unilaterally dragged and drove costly litigation on for nearly a decade,” Hastings said in a statement released Thursday

“He ignored clear and sound science that salmon species are returning in numbers greater than before these dams were built, and forced taxpayers to pay for millions of dollars in higher energy bills and lawyers’ fees,” Hastings said of Redden. “He ordered the waste of tens of millions of dollars by forcing the spilling of water past dams that science reveals has benefited few, if any, fish, and may have actually harmed them.

“This one politician-turned-judge kept pursuing his agenda and imposing his own views over the policies of the elected Presidential Administrations of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

“Judge Redden’s bias is being used to further this radical agenda just months after he announced his retirement from the case and as a new, hopefully partial, judge has been appointed to oversee the endless and unclear future of litigation he perpetuated.

“It’s time for the endless litigation and radical agendas -- bolstered by one man’s personal views and grip on a judge’s gavel -- to stop and to ensure that the Northwest will be given certainty that a plan supported by states, tribes and others will be approved to ensure that dams keep producing clean, renewable hydropower and allow for abundant salmon for generations to come,” Hastings said.

Executive director Terry Flores of Northwest RiverPartners, which represents port, shipping and hydro power interests, also disagrees with Redden when it comes to the issue of taking down the lower Snake River dams.

“Judge Redden’s remarks do provide insight into why no salmon plan, no matter how comprehensive, collaborative, scientifically sound or expensive met with his complete approval since they did not include removal of the Snake River dams,” Flores said. “It would appear that nothing short of an extreme action like dam removal would have satisfied the judge.

“Further, dam removal was not an issue before the court, nor could it be ordered by the court. Only Congress has that authority.

“We are astonished at Judge Redden’s lack of appreciation for the value of the Snake River dams to the Northwest. There is simply no question that the Snake River dams are a tremendous resource for the region, generating enough clean renewable energy to power a city the size of Seattle,” Flores said. “And let’s not forget those dams provide irrigation for farmers to grow and ship crops that feed the Northwest and the world.

“Despite the judge’s comments, there is simply no disputing reality: the salmon plan is based in the best possible science, as confirmed in an independent science review by the Obama Administration and world class scientists; it was developed in an unprecedented collaboration that continues today; and it is the most comprehensive and expensive plan to help endangered species anywhere in the country, Flores said.”

Save Our Wild Salmon policy director Nicole Cordan said the judge was on the right track.

“Judge Redden agrees with what we have known for years: that the river needs to run more like a river if we are going to save wild salmon. His remarks highlight a need to bring stakeholders together and discuss options, including lower Snake River dam removal, in a collaborative and science-based forum,” Cordan said.

“Removing the lower Snake dams is the measure most likely to restore wild Snake River salmon,” according to Doug DeHart, former chief of Fisheries for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “The judge knows it, scientists and economists know it, conservationists know it. The only real question now is why don’t the federal agencies know it?

“The endorsement is great news for thousands of businesses in the Pacific salmon states, as salmon restoration is responsible for jobs from California to Alaska,” DeHart said.

“The judge’s statements call into question the federal agencies interpretation of the ruling from last August that they’re on the ‘right track,’” said Glen Spain of Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “Clearly the judge intended for more serious revisions to the illegal BiOp.”

Meanwhile, late last fall the coalition of fishing conservation groups led by the National Wildlife Federation and the state of Oregon, which are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and ally Nez Perce Tribe, criticized the federal government’s progress report on 2010 implementation of 2008/2010 BiOp measures.

Those requests said “... NWF respectfully asks the Court to take two steps, both within the context of the current remand, to bring sufficient accountability to the remand to ensure that it results in a scientifically sound and legally adequate revised biological opinion.” Those requested steps would involve the appointment of a settlement judge and the creation of an independent science panel to review the work being done to repair NOAA Fisheries’ BiOp.

The federal government responded by asking the judge to “decline” the requests, insisting that the process in place for fortifying the BiOp is well on its way to satisfying the judge’s concerns about the government’s strategy for boosting salmon stocks.

Judge Simon has not yet to responded to the requests.

Redden was nominated to U. S. District Court, District of Oregon, by Jimmy Carter in December 1979 and received his commission on Feb. 20, 1980. He served as chief judge, 1990-1995, and assumed senior status on March 13, 1995.

Judge Redden was involved in private practice in Medford, Ore., from 1956-1972 and during that time served as an Oregon state representative (1963-1969) and as House minority leader (1967-1969). He was chairman of the state Public Employee Relations Board from 1969-1972; state treasurer for Oregon in 1973-1976, and state attorney general from1977-1980.

For more information go to:

CBB, Aug. 5, 2011, “Redden Orders New Salmon BiOp By 2014; Says Post-2013 Mitigation, Benefits Unidentified” http://www.cbbulletin.com/411336.aspx

CBB, Dec. 2, 2011, “Redden Steps Down; Allows New Judge Simon To Review Salmon Litigation Before 2014 BiOp Filed” http://www.cbbulletin.com/414468.aspx

CBB, Dec. 9, 2011, “Salmon BiOp Plaintiffs’ Urge New Judge To Consider Settlement Judge, Science Panel” http://www.cbbulletin.com/414646.aspx

For documents related to BiOp litigation go to www.salmonrecovery.gov


* Oregon Wants Access To ‘Lethal Management Tools’ In Reducing Salmon-Eating Cormorant Numbers

The state of Oregon is sending out word that it wants to have more management options in dealing with the double-crested cormorants -- including shooting the big birds – to control impacts on hatchery-produced and wild juvenile salmon that stream into estuaries along the coast.

The cormorants based at the Columbia River estuary’s East Sand Island last year ate an estimated 22.6 million salmon that originated from hatcheries and spawning grounds upstream in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Back at the turn of the century only a few thousand double-crested cormorants nested at East Sand. But the number stair-stepped upward from about 5,000 in 1997 to nearly 14,000 in 2006 before leveling off, relatively. The population estimates in 2010 and 2011 were about 13,600, according to researchers.

Now federal entities are working with tribes and states to develop a management plan that would aim to reduce predation on salmon in the lower Columbia estuary. Any such plan would likely attempt to reduce the size of the colony, which stands in the way of 13 salmon and steelhead stocks that are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Cormorant colonies along the Oregon coast are smaller. In 2009, an estimated 2,384 breeding pairs of double-crested cormorants nested at 22 colony sites along the Oregon coast, according to a research report prepared by Jessica Y. Adkins and Daniel D. Roby of the U.S. Geologic Survey’s Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Oregon State University. That was judged a modest increase from the 2003 and 2006 estimates of 2,216 and 1,903 breeding pairs at 24 and 21 colony sites, respectively.

Overall, breeding numbers during 2003-2009 in coastal Oregon are lower than the 1988-1992 estimate of 2,939 breeding pairs at 19 colony sites, the report says.

There has long been commentary, anecdotal evidence, from fishers about the birds plundering hatchery produced fish, as well as wild, listed stocks, emerging from such coastal streams as the Alsea River. But the fishery managers have no scientific data verifying the double-crested cormorants’ impact on salmon along the coast, according to Lindsay Adrean, ODFW’s avian predation coordinator.

For the first time this year ODFW obtained a permit for scientific purposes under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to kill as many as 50 cormorants at coastal colonies in order to plumb their bellies “so we can learn for sure what these birds are eating.”

The idea is to build a baseline that describes population and diet trends. The diet data will help evaluations of hazing’s effectiveness, or if it is even needed at all. That baseline data will also help measure the ripple effect of management actions at East Sand. Researchers at both ends are expected to be monitoring the movements of cormorants that might be displaced from the estuary island.

The state is also preparing an application to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is charged under the act with protecting he birds, for a depredation permit that would allow the lethal removal of up to 285 birds in total annually from cormorant colonies in the Tillamook, Rogue and Umpqua rivers. The application would request authority for the taking of up to 10 percent of the breeding population at any one colony.

Adrean said such a permit would serve as an additional tool to supplement hazing activities and control bird populations.

“It’s not birds against salmon. It’s about finding a balance” that would allow both fish and birds to flourish, Adrean said. The birds wing in each spring to nest and spend the summer and most of the fall.

Meanwhile Oregon has commented in a process aimed at scoping out the details for a “supplemental environmental impact statement” that would ultimately be prepared by the USFWS. That EIS would lead to revised regulations regarding double-crested cormorant management.

Under current regulations, cormorant damage management activities are conducted annually at the local level by individuals or agencies operating under USFWS depredation permits, the existing Aquaculture Depredation Order, or the existing Public Resource Depredation Order. The depredation orders are scheduled to expire on June 30, 2014.

The revision would update an order issued in 2003 that allows the control of double-crested cormorants without a permit by certain government agencies in 24 midwestern and eastern states.

“The ODFW requests that Western DCCO issues be included in the NEPA process,” according to comments signed by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Division Administrator Ron Anglin.

The April 5 letter said the “ODFW is highly concerned about the negative impacts of DCCOs on fish resources in Oregon, and would like to maximize the State’s ability to manage DCCO conflicts my improving the accessibility of lethal management tools.”

“There is also concern regarding economic impacts due to the loss of hatchery production and the loss of the contribution of angling to local economies.

“The ODFW invests more than $30 million annually in hatchery and habitat restoration programs to fuel healthy, sustainable wild and hatchery fish populations capable of supporting fisheries in Oregon,” the ODFW letter says.

“Past efforts to reduce DCCO impacts on fish resources using non-lethal management along has proved insufficient in Oregon,” Anglin said.


* Briefs Filed Defending Sea Lion Removal; Oral Arguments May 15 On Preliminary Injunction Request

NOAA Fisheries “provided reasoned interpretations” of Marine Mammal Protection Act provisions earlier this year in granting the states of Idaho, Oregon and Washington authority to kill California sea lions that are known to be preying on wild salmon stocks in the lower Columbia River, according to recent federal court filings.

The statement filed by the U.S. Department of Justice says that because NOAA Fisheries provided a “cogent explanation” for its action, federal law requires that courts give the agency deference and uphold its decision.

The federal government and Northwest states and tribes all weighed in April 20 in response to an April 6 request to the U.S. District Court that it issue a preliminary injunction to stop sea lion removals while a lawsuit filed earlier by the Humane Society of the United States plays out.

The states were granted lethal removal authority under the MMPA’s Section 120 on March 15. The NOAA Fisheries Service decision was immediately challenged with a complaint filed March 19 by HSUS. The letter of authority said as many as 92 California sea lions could be removed annually for the next five year without causing harm to what has been a growing sea lion population.

The states have said that curbing sea lion consumption is a necessary part of an overall effort to improve the lot of protected salmon and steelhead. In all 13 stocks that call the Columbia-Snake river basin home are listed under the Endangered Species Act. The California sea lions are protected under the MMPA but are not ESA listed.

Section 120 allows under certain circumstances, and with federal permission, that identifiable California sea lions can be removed if they are known to have a significant impact on listed salmon.

The Humane Society has argued, in this litigation and in a prior lawsuit challenging a 2008 Section 120 authorization, that NOAA cannot call the sea lions’ impact “significant” while at the same time allowing human caused mortality, such as fishing, that has a greater impact on fish populations.

The 2008 decision was upheld in district court but was judged illegal by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The federal government has claimed it has repaired the legal flaws sited by the appeals court, which said NOAA Fisheries had failed to adequately explain how the sea lion predation was significant.

The HSUS has said that the sea lion removals should stop while the legal merits of the lawsuit are being argued and judged.

“In short, NMFS has failed to comply with the Ninth Circuit’s remand and its obligations under law. There is nothing in the record on NMFS’s 2012 authorization that might support a finding that sea lions must be killed immediately, and certainly not before this case can be resolved on the merits,” the April 6 memo says.

“Plaintiffs and their members regularly see, enjoy watching, and recognize specific sea lions at the Dam, including some of the “individually identifiable” animals targeted to be killed, and thus will be irreparably harmed if these federally protected animals are killed simply for eating fish before such time as the Court can resolve Plaintiffs’ request for preliminary injunction,” HSUS said.

So far this spring six “eligible” California sea lions have hauled out on floating traps positioned just below Bonneville and been removed. Four were trapped in previous weeks and euthanized. Two trapped on Wednesday were being held as of late Thursday “because there is a request from Shedd Aquarium” for one animal, said Rick Hargrave of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The animals become eligible for removal based on observed predation salmon below the dam and continued presence at Bonneville despite human efforts to chase the California sea lions away.

Blood tests were taken for analysis “to see if they are free and clean of any disease,” Hargrave said. If one or both receive a clean bill of health, one of the big marine mammals would be moved to the Chicago aquarium and the other would be euthanized. So far this year Shedd is the only facility that has offered to make a home for any of the sea lions.

Briefs filed April 20 by the three states, the federal government and the Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakama tribes defend the decision, and ask that the preliminary injunction be denied.

The parties to the lawsuit have proposed that the plaintiffs – HSUS and the Wild Fish Conservancy – have until the end of the day today to respond to the federal, state and tribal arguments.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon on Tuesday scheduled oral argument on HSUS's motion for a preliminary injunction to take place at 9 a.m. on May 15 at the federal courthouse in Portland, Courtroom 13B. A decision from the judge would then be forthcoming.

The April 20 federal memorandum says NOAA Fisheries has followed a legal path.

“After an extensive administrative process and through repeated consultation with a statutorily created Pinniped-Fishery Interaction Task Force (“Task Force”), NMFS has determined that pinniped predation at Bonneville dam poses a serious risk to ESA-listed salmonids; that is, sea lions at Bonneville dam are having a ‘significant negative impact’,” on the decline or recovery of these listed salmonids, the federal brief said, noting Section 120 language.

“In this exact circumstance, Congress has spoken directly to this issue and clearly instructed NMFS to favor ESA-listed salmon and steelhead over a healthy population of sea lions.”

The federal filing says the HSUS arguments “are not reasoned and do not present viable claims under the law.

“The crux of their claims is that other factors on the Columbia River, like treaty-based harvest of salmon and mortality through the Federal Columbia River Power System (“hydrosystem”), have a far greater impact on listed salmon and steelhead than sea lion predation. This, they contend, means that NMFS must address all of these other threats to ESA-listed salmonids first, before NMFS can ever authorize lethal take of predatory California Sea lions.

“It is true that the hydrosystem and harvest, among other threats, result in mortality to salmon and steelhead. What Plaintiffs have consistently failed to address, however, is that Congress did not condition the applicability of Section 120 to only those instances where pinniped predation is the only source of mortality affecting the decline or recovery of ESA-listed stocks,” according to a joint filing from the three states. “Plaintiffs also fail to acknowledge that the threats they identify have been carefully managed and mitigated for decades, while sea lion predation is a relatively new and unmanaged threat that, according to Congress, must be actively pursued.”

The April 20 memo filed by the three tribes says plaintiffs’ assertion that sea lion predation is insignificant is “based on a false construct.”

“They take a small sliver of sea lion predation in the Columbia River, that which occurs only within the one-quarter mile ‘observation area’ of Bonneville Dam, and then shut their eyes and cover their ears to sea lion predation in the rest of the River, which is an order of magnitude larger,” the tribal brief says.

“Plaintiffs then compare that sliver of predation against harvest that occurs throughout the entire River and cry “Foul! Look, the impacts of sea lion predation are not significant as compared to fishery harvest.”

If a truer assessment was employed “the only conclusion that can be made, once the totality of sea lion predation on listed fish is measured, is that predation and the harms it causes greatly exceeds that of status quo harvest.

“Plaintiffs also ignore the fact that fisheries are managed under the jurisdiction of federal courts pursuant to court orders, constitutionally protected treaty rights, and federal mitigation obligations that weave together and form the backdrop for tribal and non-tribal harvest. For these and the other points and authorities discussed below, the Motion for Preliminary Injunction should be denied,” the tribes say.

For more information see CBB, April 13, 2012, “Request For Preliminary Injunction Filed As States Continue Trapping, Euthanizing Sea Lions” http://www.cbbulletin.com/419349.aspx


* Boat Crowding At Wind River Mouth Prompts Wider Fishing Boundary; Spring Chinook Counts Rising

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has expanded the popular fishing area at the mouth of the Wind River in the southwest part of the state by moving the outside boundary about 250 yards out into the Columbia River.

Working with a crew from the U.S. Geological Survey, state personnel recently finished anchoring a white buoy line marking the new boundary, just as the number of spring chinook salmon passing Bonneville Dam was picking up nine miles downriver.

Upriver spring spawning runs in recent years have been later timed than historically when the peak of the return-- the highest daily counts at Bonneville and halfway mark in run passage -- was in late April.

That zenith has over the past seven years or so slipped into early May and would seem headed in that direction this year.

Counts of upriver fish – those headed for Wind River, which flows out of Washington into the Bonneville pool, and elsewhere in Idaho, Oregon and Washington upstream of Bonneville – had lagged until recent days. The yearly total on April 13 was only 257, with a high daily count of 41 on the previous day. But Bonneville passage has quickly climbed, with 4,376 passing on Monday to bring the 2012 spring chinook total of 10,683 through April 23. The count Tuesday was slightly higher, 4,873 adult upriver spring chinook, to bring the season’s total to 15,556.

The preseason forecast is for a total return of 314,200 adult upriver spring chinook to the mouth of the Columbia. The Bonneville count does not include natural mortalities in the lower river, or sport and commercial harvests. Bonneville Dam is about 146 river miles upstream from the mouth of the Columbia. State officials estimate that more than 15,000 upriver spring chinook will have been caught by sport (11,129) and commercial (4,696) fishers through this past weekend.

Lower Columbia mainstem sport salmon fishing was closed as of the end of the day Sunday. No additional sport fisheries are scheduled. Both spring seasons (through June 15) could be revived if early May run-size updates indicate the 2012 upriver run is big enough to support additional fisheries.

A 10-year state-tribal fishing agreement allocates harvests based on the size of the return. Limits are imposed to protect the listed wild fish.

John Weinheimer, a WDFW fish biologist, said the fishing area was expanded to help relieve crowding at the mouth of the Wind River, where up to 200 boats a day often compete for space during the peak of the spring chinook season in late April and May.

Sediment from the river has contributed to the problem by crowding boats into areas still deep enough to fish, he said.

"The public has asked us for years to move the fishing boundary out into the Columbia," Weinheimer said. "We're trying it this year on an experimental basis to see if we can do that without a significant impact on federally protected spring chinook bound for the upper Columbia River."

The upriver spring chinook run passing by the mouth of the Wind include wild fish headed to the Snake River and upper Columbia that are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. The 10-year federal-state-tribal agreement puts limits on impacts associated with state and tribal harvests to assure certain levels of escapement for natural production.

Weinheimer said the boundary line will be readjusted during the course of the season if catch monitoring shows a high catch of upper Columbia chinook.

The experiment would not be possible, he said, without financial support from the Columbia River endorsement fee paid by anglers who fish in the Columbia or its tributaries.
The Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement Advisory Board, which allocates that funding, approved spending $33,300 to hire temporary staff to monitor the catch and analyze the data over a three-month period.

"This is exactly the type of action the sport fishing community has requested be funded with the endorsement dollars," Weinheimer said.

Approximately 8,400 hatchery-reared adult spring salmon are expected to return to the Wind River this year, up from 7,800 last year. The fishery for hatchery-reared salmon on the Wind River will remain open through June 30, regardless of the regulations in effect on the mainstem Columbia River.

The hatchery returns are the results of releases of fish produced at nearby Carson National Fish Hatchery.

For a depiction of the new fishing boundary see http://bit.ly/Ij5s59


* Gorge Hatcheries Release 10 Million Plus Juvenile Salmon Past Week; More Transferred For Recovery Programs

Since April 13, national fish hatcheries in the Columbia River Gorge have released more than 10 million juvenile chinook salmon into the lower Columbia River and its tributaries, continuing a 70-year program that supports tribal and sport fish harvests worth millions of dollars.

The hatcheries, part of the Columbia River Gorge National Fish Hatchery Complex, also support a program that affirms Native American treaty-reserved fishing rights in the Columbia River Basin and helps conserve wild salmon stocks, including several salmon species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

On April 13, Spring Creek NFH and Little White Salmon NFH released more than 8 million tule fall chinook salmon. On April 17, Carson NFH released nearly 1.2 million spring chinook into the Wind River, and on April 20, Little White Salmon NFH and Willard NFH released 1 million more.

“This [spring chinook] project helps maintain a fish population that is incapable of becoming self-sustaining due to habitat loss resulting from flooding, siltation, and fluctuating water levels caused by the Bonneville Pool, and it also provides fish to reaffirm tribal treaty-reserved fishing rights,” said Speros Doulos, manager of the Columbia Gorge NFH Complex. “The reliable return of adult spring chinook to the Columbia River and Drano Lake is recognized as a major contributor to these popular fisheries.”

Returning adult spring chinook support Columbia River sport, commercial and tribal fisheries in the river and a highly successful tribal fishery in Drano Lake, Doulos said.

In addition to the spring chinook releases, Spring Creek NFH in Underwood, Wash., released 6.2 million subyearling tule fall chinook salmon last week directly into the Columbia River. This important stock of fish supports river and coastal fisheries of Washington and British Columbia. The hatchery will release another 4.5 million subyearling salmon in early May.

Chinook production at Columbia River Gorge NFHs is operated in “segregated harvest programs” to avoid ecological risks with the federally listed lower Columbia River Chinook salmon or steelhead native to the Wind River.

The hatchery releases fulfill important legal responsibilities the U.S. government has to Native American tribes under the U.S. v. Oregon Management Agreement, as well as federal government responsibilities to mitigate for lost salmon production and spawning grounds due to the construction of hydropower projects that are part of the Federal Columbia River Power System.

Hatchery releases over the past couple weeks are timed to coincide with the annual outmigration of young salmon to the ocean, a cycle that begins with the young fish making a downstream journey -- swimming backwards -- to the Pacific Ocean, where they will live for one to five years or more, then return as adults to their natal (home) streams, where they spawn and die.

In addition to its fish releases, the Carson NFH transferred nearly 250,000 spring chinook pre-smolts (juvenile salmon nearly ready to migrate to the ocean) to the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The transfer continues a seven-year partnership to re-establish a salmon run in the Walla Walla River that was extirpated for 80 years until 2005, when the Umatilla Tribe’s reintroduction program began.

Willard NFH in Cook, Washington, has already transferred 609,000 coho salmon in pre-smolt stages to seven different Yakama Indian Nation acclimation sites, including the Leavenworth NFH Complex in the Wenatchee and Methow river basins. These rivers are tributaries of the Columbia River and the work undertaken by the Service and the Yakama Nation are part of a larger Mid-Columbia River Coho Reintroduction Program.

The rearing of locally adapted Mid-Columbia (Wenatchee Basin) coho began 11 years ago when Willard NFH first received eggs collected from adults returning to the Wenatchee River.

A smolt is a juvenile salmon whose physiology is adapting from living in freshwater to saltwater ecosystems. Smoltification occurs as young salmon migrate towards the ocean, and includes changes in scales that become larger and silvery – traits more advantageous in ocean environments. Remarkable modifications to gills and lungs also occur, allowing the young fish to ‘breathe’ oxygen from salt water via a process called osmoregulation, according to Don Campton, Pacific Region Fisheries Program science adviser.

“Osmoregulation is comparable to humans acclimating at high altitudes before climbing a mountain,” said Campton.

A salmon’s migration and ability to locate and return to the stream where it was born is considered one of nature’s most remarkable phenomena. Salmon and steelhead (rainbow trout that migrate to the ocean) have acute senses of smell; they are believed to be able to detect chemical signature concentrations in water as small as one or two parts per million, equivalent to being able to sniff out a single drop of water in 250 gallons. Members of the salmon family, Salmonidae, have existed on Earth for at least 50 million years.

For more information, visit: http://www.fws.gov/gorgefish/littlewhite/index.cfm


* Umatilla Tribes This Spring, Summer To Measure Success Of Lamprey Reintroduction, Dam Passage

Three projects are planned by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation this spring and summer to measure the success of lamprey passage and reintroduction programs started 12 years ago on the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

The tribes’ Fish and Wildlife Commission issued scientific take permits to collect up to 500 adult Pacific lamprey as brood stock, to collect and tag 80 adult lamprey to study passage, and to sample 4,000 juvenile lamprey to monitor success of restoration efforts.

CTUIR Fisheries Program crews will collect adults for broodstock at Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day dams.

At Bonneville Dam, the Tribes will utilize lamprey traps operated by the University of Idaho and the National Marine Fisheries Service staff. The individual lampreys will be collected from those agencies that already are sampling lamprey.

At The Dalles and John Day dams, the CTUIR will collect lampreys from each fishway during maintenance/dewaterings conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and utilize traps to catch fish in picketed lead areas for adult lampreys.

Collected lampreys will be transported in an insulated 300-gallon slip tank to the South Fork Walla Walla Adult Holding Facility and then transferred to Minthorn Springs on the Umatilla River in the fall of this year to be held until out-planting in the spring of 2013.

The lamprey will be released near Bear Creek at its confluence with the Umatilla River, near Camp Creek confluence in Meacham Creek, and near Little Iskuulktpe Creek confluence in Iskuulktpe Creek.

A permit also was issued to collect and tag 80 adult Pacific Lamprey for a radio telemetry study to determine the passage success and to evaluate new lamprey passage structures at Three Mile Dam (upstream from the confluence with the Columbia River) and irrigation diversions on the Umatilla River.

The adult lamprey will be collected at Bonneville, The Dalles and/or John Day dam fishways and from brood stock collected last year.

In addition to determining the number of lamprey that successfully pass over the structures, the study will document the rate and route of migration at each structure using the radio telemetry and half-duplex PIT monitoring.

This will aid the tribes’ efforts to re-establish Pacific lamprey to self-sustaining, harvestable levels in the Umatilla Basin through approved adult translocation, according to the permit.

The collection, which is being coordinated with Corps staff, will be conducted using traps in fishways or from a brood holding facility. On the day of the capture, each lamprey will be weighed, measured and equipped with a uniquely coded radio transmitter, and then tracked upon release.

Another permit was issued to collect at least 4,000 juvenile Pacific lampreys from index site plots (fines, silt, and sand along and within margins of the streams, backwaters and eddies) on the Umatilla River, Meacham Creek and Iskuulktpe Creek, tributaries of the Umatilla River. The purpose of the collection is to continue to monitor larval abundance in restoration areas as outlined in the tribes’ restoration plan.


* Gathering Celebrates Completion of Tribes’ In-Lieu Dallesport Treaty Fishing Access Site; 31st Built By Corps

Leadership from four Columbia River treaty tribes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Indian Affairs gathered on the banks of the Columbia River Wednesday morning to celebrate the completion of the Dallesport Treaty Fishing Access Site.

The 31st in-lieu and treaty fishing access site constructed by the Corps under “Public Law 100-581, Title IV: Columbia River Treaty Fishing Access Sites represents the end of the construction phase of the Columbia River Treaty Fishing Access Site program. The sites constructed under the program are mitigation for usual and accustomed fishing areas lost by the tribes when the lower Columbia River Dams were constructed, beginning with Bonneville Dam in 1937.

“The conclusion of these construction projects demonstrates the power of partnership and what we can accomplish when we work together,” said Gerald Lewis, chairman of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “There is still work that needs to be done to address what was lost at these sites. I believe we will accomplish what we need to by working together.”

The development of the tribal in-lieu and treaty fishing access sites began in 1988 when Congress enacted Public Law 100-581. The sites are designed with facilities such as: boat ramps and docks, fish-cleaning tables, net racks, drying sheds, restrooms, mechanical buildings, and shelters. In total, the in-lieu and treaty fishing access sites occupy approximately 700 acres along the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam. Construction on the first treaty fishing access site began in 1995.

“Completing the treaty fishing access sites is a great milestone for the Corps, but there’s still more to do,” said George Miller, the Corps’ TFAS project manager. “We hope this partnership remains strong as we work together to solve some of the other substantive challenges facing the region. Challenges like adjusting the John Day mitigation fish production program and outstanding housing issues will need a strong partnership if we are to achieve success.”

Purchased in 2009, the 64-acre Dallesport site has eight campsites for tribal member use during the tribal fishing seasons, a 128-foot boat launch, 120-foot dock, restroom and shower facilities, net repair racks and a fish cleaning table. Costing $4.8 million, an overwhelming majority of personnel working on the construction of the project were tribal.

In addition to the developments for tribal fishers, the site involved extensive environmental remediation work. Sandy dunes were stabilized with various plants and willow plantings and an estimated six thousand tons of tar-tainted sand was removed from the soil.

A task force comprised of tribal, CRITFC, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Corps of Engineers representatives worked on a government-to-government basis to implement the project. The group established processes and considerations that respected the tribes’ concerns such as potential impacts to cultural resources, and the needs of the tribal fishers and tribal communities. Each tribe’s Tribal Employment Rights Office assisted the task force in developing employment opportunities for tribal members during site construction.


* Culvert Work Set For This Year To Aid Wild Salmon, Steelhead In Portland’s Johnson Creek

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Portland Bureau of Environmental Services are co-hosts for an open house on Thursday, May 3 to discuss construction activities this summer to restore a portion of Crystal Springs Creek in southeast Portland.
The project is part of the larger Crystal Springs Creek restoration effort to improve habitat and passage for coho and chinook salmon and steelhead trout.

Crystal Springs Creek is a tributary of lower Johnson Creek in southeast Portland. Johnson Creek in turn flows into the Willamette River, a tributary that feeds into the Columbia River at Portland. Crystal Springs Creek originates from a spring near Reed College and the Eastmoreland Golf Course, an area that was once primarily marshy wetlands.

Before development, the wetlands retained excess water from flood events and provided important rearing and refuge habitat for salmon, and foraging and nesting sites for beavers, birds, turtles, frogs, and other wildlife.

Crystal Springs is spring fed, which keeps water temperatures cool and stream flow uniform throughout the year. That adds cool water to Johnson Creek in the summer when stream flow can be low and warm. Fish and amphibians thrive in cool water.

Crystal Springs is home to wild coho and chinook salmon, and steelhead trout. All three species are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act and Crystal Springs is designated as critical habitat.

The City of Portland’s Environmental Services is working to enhance conditions in Crystal Springs Creek to benefit native fish.

There are nine culverts on Crystal Springs Creek between SE 28th Ave. and the creek's confluence with Johnson Creek. Many of the culverts inhibit fish from swimming upstream and downstream to reach spawning and rearing habitat. Culvert replacement or removal is a key element of recovery of endangered juvenile salmon and trout species. Replacing Crystal Springs Creek culverts with fish-friendly culverts will open up nearly three miles of prime habitat for threatened native fish species.

The city’s “Grey to Green” initiative allocated $2 million dollars to replace eight culverts in Crystal Springs Creek over a five-year span. Environmental Services is collaborating and leveraging funds with other bureaus, agencies, and partners to replace all fish passage barriers in Crystal Springs by the end of 2014.

Construction in 2012 is Phase I of this project and is part of a larger Crystal Springs Creek restoration effort. Beginning in July, the Corps will replace two culverts at SE Umatilla and SE Tenino streets, restore a stream corridor, remove a driveway culvert at SE 21st Avenue, and install green streets for stormwater management and treatment.

Phase II construction, scheduled for 2013, includes a culvert replacement at SE Tacoma Street, site restorations and stormwater management at locations on S.E. Tacoma Street and SE 21st Avenue, and restoration of a stream corridor at Westmoreland Park.

The Crystal Springs and Westmoreland Park Ecosystem Restoration project is a partnership between the Corps and the city of Portland. It is authorized under Section 206 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2008, which allows the Corps to partner with non-federal agencies to restore degraded aquatic ecosystems. Project costs are shared between the Corps (65 percent) and the city (35 percent).

Doors open at the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League (SMILE) station at 8210 SE 13th Ave., Portland, Ore., at 5:30 p.m.; the Corps will present a brief description of the project and outline construction activities at 6 p.m. Representatives from the Corps, Environmental Services and Hamilton Construction will be available to answer questions until 7:30 p.m.

For more information about the meeting call or email Michelle Helms at 503-808-4517 or Michelle.R.Helms@usace.army.mil, or Ronda Fast at 503-823-4921 or Ronda.Fast@portlandoregon.gov.


* Colville Tribes’ Traditional Fishing Gear Efforts Anticipate Rising Salmon Numbers From New Hatchery

Inside the National Guard Armory at Okanogan, Wash., Leroy and Mylan Williams teach a small crowd of onlookers the nearly lost art of building fish nets by hand. The father and son are part of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation and are teaching other tribal members how to build and use traditional fishing gear.

"We're doing this is in anticipation of the new hatchery that's going in because it will mean a larger number of salmon coming up stream," says 33-year-old Mylan Williams.

After nearly a decade of design and construction, the new Chief Joseph Hatchery, located near Bridgeport, Wash. is nearing completion. In a joint effort funded by BPA, Grant County Public Utility District and the Colville Tribes, the project is expected to be completed in February 2013, said BPA in a recent press release.

As the new hatchery moves closer to reality, tribal members anticipate the significant numbers of salmon that biologists predict it will produce some day.

In preparing for the arrival of the fish, the Williams are travelling throughout the Colville Reservation teaching their tribal brethren the aboriginal way of building nets. The father and son are some of the last Colville tribal members who possess the ancient skills.

The elder Williams says declining salmon populations in the upper Columbia over the last century has meant fewer tribal members learned the old fishing methods. "We're at the tail end of the fish run way up here; a lot of people thought it had died out so they didn't bother learning net building. We'd like to revive that."

Over the last 70 years, hydropower development caused losses to tribal fisheries in the Upper Columbia region. As a result, a disconnection emerged between Colville tribal members and their fishing heritage. Tribal members want to rebuild Upper Columbia wild salmon runs while harvesting their share of the hatchery produced fish. Dipnets, seines and hoopnets offer an opportunity to take a portion of the hatchery-produced fish while supporting the rebuild of naturally spawning populations.

Through the Columbia Basin Fish Accords, BPA, said the press release, supports the net building educational classes as part of the Live Capture Gear Deployment project.

Last summer the Williams caught 50 summer steelhead using their handmade nets and were successful at harvesting hatchery fish while releasing the wild ones. As part of the program, BPA is also funding construction of a small number of fishing scaffolds along the upper river.

BPA project manager Dave Roberts says the agency is supporting the Colville peoples' rediscovery of the ways their ancestors fished. "Funding tribal members to teach the construction and use of traditional fishing gears, like dipnets and hoopnets, is an important contribution to reconnecting people with their aboriginal fishing heritage," says Roberts.

As the younger Williams describes it, long ago his ancestors made net frames out of large willow branches and used hemp and braided willow for net mesh and rope. These days, in their net-building classes, the father and son teach others to use more modern materials, such as spring steel for frames and nylon gill net for mesh. But the basic construction and use haven't changed for centuries.

The elder Williams, who was born in 1946, fondly remembers his uncles fishing traditionally with huge hoop nets and 30 to 40-foot-long dip nets the men had made.

He says his family taught him the art, he taught his son and now the two of them want to pass it on.

"I was told by my uncles that they can't take all of this information with them and that it's passed down from generation to generation, so I'd like to keep that going," says Williams.

When completed next year, the Chief Joseph Hatchery will ultimately release nearly three-million spring and summer chinook in the upper Columbia and Okanogan rivers. Biologists estimate tens of thousands of those fish will be available for Colville tribal members to harvest.

The elder Williams says he, his son and others will be eagerly waiting for the fish with their new nets. "There's going to be a large influx of salmon at that time. And we want as many of our membership to fish like this, the old traditional way," he says.


* NW Utilities Forecast Report Says ‘Gaps To Fill’ In Next Decade To Meet Winter, Summer ‘Peak’ Loads

The Pacific Northwest Utilities Conference Committee’s “Northwest Regional Forecast” released this week, tells the story of how the region’s electric utilities plan to keep the lights on over the coming decade.

The 2012 Forecast is a tale of steadily growing demand for electricity served by hydropower, energy efficiency, natural gas-fired generation and wind power.

Right now, the region uses roughly 22,000 megawatts of firm energy to meet annual demand and just over 38,000 megawatts to meet peak demand. And projections are for a steady but moderate rise over the next 10 years after taking into account what utilities expect to save through energy efficiency programs.

The peak demand, which refers to the highest spikes in usage, is a focus of this year’s needs analysis. PNUCC sees that peak demand continuing to occur in the winter, when lighting and heating loads are greatest. Yet, summer demand is escalating as well and utilities are watching it closely.

Peak demand is an important yardstick for measuring what will be required to keep the lights on in the future. While the region’s annual energy demand is being met, there are gaps to fill in the next decade to meet winter and summer peak loads, says PNUCC.

The forecast indicates that in the near term the region needs another 2,000 to 3,000 megawatts of firm resources capable of meeting the peaks. That means generators, like natural gas turbines, that utilities can call on at a moment’s notice.

Hydropower still dominates the region’s resource mix, providing much of the firm power needed as well as the flexibility to accommodate variable resources like wind.

Hydro, says the report, is critical to keeping the system stable and reliable. Utilities are relying heavily on demand-side management and offering a variety of programs to encourage efficiency.

Utilities also have additional natural gas and wind generation under construction or on the drawing board. Looking ahead, utilities have more than 6,500 MW of demand-side savings and generation planned to meet projected needs.

The full report is available at www.pnucc.org/system-planning/northwest-regional-forecast


* Researchers Unveil New Seafloor Mapping Of Oregon’s Nearshore; Data For Fishing Industry, Marine Planners

After more than two years of intense field work and digital cartography, researchers have unveiled new maps of the seafloor off Oregon that cover more than half of the state’s territorial waters – a collaborative project that will provide new data for scientists, marine spatial planners, and the fishing industry.

The most immediate benefit will be improved tsunami inundation modeling for the Oregon coast, according to Chris Goldfinger, director of the Active Tectonics and Seafloor Mapping Laboratory at Oregon State University, who led much of the field work.

“Understanding the nature of Oregon’s Territorial Sea is critical to sustaining sport and commercial fisheries, coastal tourism, the future of wave energy, and a range of other ocean-derived ecosystem services valued by Oregonians,” Goldfinger said. “The most immediate focus, though, is the threat posed by a major tsunami.

“Knowing what lies beneath the surface of coastal waters will allow much more accurate predictions of how a tsunami will propagate as it comes ashore,” he added. “We’ve also found and mapped a number of unknown reefs and other new features we’re just starting to investigate, now that the processing work is done.”

The mapping project was a collaborative effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, David Evans and Associations, and Fugro. It was funded by NOAA and the Oregon Department of State Lands.

Goldfinger said the applications for the data are numerous. Scientists will be better able to match near-shore biological studies with undersea terrain; planners will be able to make better decisions on siting marine reserves and wave energy test beds; and commercial and recreational fishermen will be able to locate reefs, rockpiles and sandy-bottomed areas with greater efficiency.

“Prior to this, most people used nautical charts,” Goldfinger said. “They would provide the depth of the water, the distance off shore, and in some cases, a bit about the ocean floor – whether it might be mud, rock or sand. Through this project, we’ve been able to map more than half of Oregon’s state waters in a much more comprehensive way.”

Oregon’s Territorial Sea extends three nautical miles from the coast and comprises about 950 square nautical miles. The researchers have created numerous different habitat maps covering 55 percent of those waters, which show distinction between fine, medium and coarse sands; display rocky outcrops; and have contour lines, not unlike a terrestrial topographic map.

Some of the mapping was done aboard the Pacific Storm, an OSU ship operated by the university’s Marine Mammal Institute. The project also utilized commercial fishing boats during their off-season.

More information about the project, as well as the maps and data, are available at: http://activetectonics.coas.oregonstate.edu/state_waters.htm


* Research Shows Aquaculture Salmon Feed Includes Wild, ‘High Trophic Level’ Fish

Researchers from the University of Oviedo have for the first time analyzed a DNA fragment from commercial feed for aquarium cichlids, aquaculture salmon and marine fish in aquariums.

The results show that in order to manufacture this feed, eight species of high trophic level fish have been used, some of them coming directly from extractive fisheries.

Aquaculture initially came as an ecological initiative to reduce pressure from fishing and to cover human food needs. However, a problem has emerged: consumers prefer carnivore species, like salmon and cod that require tons of high quality protein for their quick, optimum development.

"If these proteins are obtained from extractive fisheries, aquaculture stops being an alternative to over-fishing and starts contributing to it, turning it into a risk for natural marine ecosystems" Alba Ardura, lead author of the study published in 'Fisheries Research' and researcher in the department of Functional Biology at the University of Oviedo told SINC.

The research team analysed a DNA fragment from commercial feed made for aquarium cichlids, aquaculture of salmon and marine fish in aquariums. After removing oil and fat from the feed, DNA sequences were obtained and compared with public databases to identify the species found.

From fish feed samples, supplied by manufacturers and bought in animal shops, researchers identified eight species of wild marine fish that were from high trophic levels in the food chain.

Industrial waste from processing and commercialization for human consumption of Peruvian anchoveta, European sprat, Pacific cod, whiting, Atlantic herring, Pacific sandlance jack mackerel, and blue mackerel, allow fish meal for aquaculture fish to be made.

Nonetheless, according to the researcher "some of the species found in this feed are commercialized fresh without being processed and they suspect that they came to the feed directly from extractive fisheries." This is the case with herring and Pacific sandlance.

The research suggests that aquaculture is partly maintained by fisheries, and aquaculture fishes are fed by wild fish sold "whole" (without being processed) and fresh directly from fishing vessels.

"If species from extractive fishing are used to feed farm fish, aquaculture does not help minimiz over-fishing" warns the expert who suggests "urgently" revising the composition of aquaculture feed to replace them with other proteins. The aim is to reduce the exploitation of natural fish populations.

Ardura proposes increasing efforts to gain high quality proteins from other sources, such as vegetable proteins, which supplement farmed fish's nutritional needs. This way they will be able to "minimize the impact of aquaculture on wild populations."

For more information about the CBB contact:
-- BILL CRAMPTON, Editor/Writer, bcrampton@cbbulletin.com, phone:
541-312-8860 or
-- BARRY ESPENSON, Senior Writer, bespenson@msn.com, phone: 360-696-4005; fax: 360-694-1530

The stories in this e-mail newsletter are posted on the Columbia Basin Bulletin website at www.cbbulletin.com. If you would like access to the CBB archives, please consider becoming a Member of the CBB website for as little as $5 a month. Your membership will help support maintenance of the 10-year (1998-2008) news database and the production of trustworthy, timely news and information about Columbia Basin fish and wildlife issues.



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